V8495 – Revisiting The Beginning

So what was my mystery WIP shot? It’s a blouse I made using the gingham I bought in Paris for seven euros. To be exact, it’s the V8495 blouse which happens to be the very first item I ever made when I decided to start sewing about three years ago.

The first thing I ever made.

My 2012 revisit.

It was soooo interesting revisiting this pattern and there were some surprises along the way.

Surprise Number One – I Had No Idea About Sizing Back Then.

I am staggered that my first ever make turned out to be a success. Seriously, I have no idea what I was thinking when I cut out the pieces as I was way off my actual measurements. I can’t believe that I was taking into account generous ease. (I wouldn’t have even known what ease was.) The pattern size I chose has a discrepancy of five inches on my waist measurement and my chest measurement is about two inches too small. What was my logic? What could I possibly have been thinking? Had I waved a tape measure in a vague way around my body and then ordered a pattern at random? No idea. And yet my first make fitted and still fits. Unlike the gingham make, which is too small. How come?

Surprise number two – Seam Allowances Didn’t Mean Anything Back Then.

When I first started sewing, I ignored a lot of the obvious. I thought notches were for losers and stoically refused to engage with them for about the first 18 months of my sewing career. On returning to this first make, I also remembered (too late) that I didn’t give a jot for seam allowances. I lined the edge of the fabric up with the edge of the sewing machine foot. Which is why my original make actually fitted. Can you believe the serendipity? Ignorance + stubborn streak = successful make. I deserved to fail, and yet I didn’t. Sadly, on my second make I respected the 15mm seam allowance rule (because that’s what you’re meant to do) and consequently made a top that is too small for me. Fortunately, my sister has a much smaller frame and she is now the proud owner of a gingham blouse.

Surprise Number Three – On My First Make I Just Went Ahead And Drafted My Own Sleeves. And Successfully Inserted Them.

Would you like me to repeat that? I wasn’t happy with the pattern’s shorter sleeve options (they stuck out like airplane wings) so I ripped them out, recut them and inserted new sleeves as seemed best. Seemed best turned out to be pretty damn good. Unbelievable. My first ever sewing project and I was doing all that? Ignorance and lack of fear can go a long way, it turns out.

Surprise Number Four – I Was Working With A Poor Pattern.

My experienced eye can now see that there’s a reason the original pattern sleeves weren’t working very well. This pattern wasn’t, in my opinion, ever drafted to have sleeves. See how the sleeveless version’s bodice extends to almost create cap sleeves? I feel sure that someone at Vogue just added some last-minute sleeve options to give the illusion of variety, leading poor Sewists into guaranteed failure. I wouldn’t have known that. I’d have thought badly-performing sleeves were my own fault. But I clearly didn’t give much of a stuff – I just set about making adjustments. Again, the incredible buoyancy of the novice!

I really, really recommend returning to the first ever pattern you ever worked with. It will bring back lots of memories, several surprises and a lovely reminder not only of how far you’ve come, but how brave you were to begin with.┬áThe only shame is that my new top is too small. But hey, them’s the knocks.

Would you be tempted to revisit your first make? Is it a pattern you’d even look at now?

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36 Responses to V8495 – Revisiting The Beginning

  1. It’s such a great revelation .. Makes you see how far you come

  2. Oh this post brings all kinds of memories rushing back! Unbelievably I inserted an invisible zip and added a lining to my first ever make, neither of which were specified in the pattern! I can’t quite believe my audacity. I DID measure everything properly, but like you, decided to disregard seam allowances and lined the fabric up with the edge of the machine foot!! My skirt ended up too big and had to be taken in, after which I wore it to death. Ooh, so much to say, I feel a blog post coming on….! X
    ps. lovely gingham top by the way.

  3. maddie says:

    wow I cannot beleive you drafted your own sleeve. That it pretty amazing! I do have the first thing I ever made but unfortunately I didn’t save the pattern

  4. LinB says:

    First “pattern” was for a pillowcase, in that my mother and I took the fabric I’d chosen from her stash, held it up to an existing pillowcase, and folded to the correct proportions. As this is still the way I usually do pillowcases, I’d say that I HAVE revisited my first pattern. Cannot drag forth from the mists of time any memory of what I first sewed from a commercial pattern, as I am of an age at which my brain discards information it decides is no longer useful in favor of important things like which celebrity couple is cheating on each other and with whom. Sigh.
    The Sewing Goddess indeed smiled upon your first effort. Well done, you, for following up on an initial success!

  5. Carolyn says:

    The first thing I remember making was a t-shirt for a friend of mine who was moving away. I was somewhere between 4 and 6 when I made it. I remember that my mom had to put the sewing machine foot pedal up on an overturned laundry basket so I could reach it, and that she kept warning me not to run over my fingers with the needle. I remember asking her why I shouldn’t run over my fingers with the needle, but I don’t remember her giving me a good explanation about what would happen.

    I still have the first pattern from when I got to be a bit older (like 12) and became more interested in serious sewing and amazingly, that dress pattern has the entire size range in it, so I might be able to tweak it to fit me. That would be an interesting revisit.

  6. Lauren says:

    Oh, I have definitely revisited my first “successful” pattern as a seasoned sewist. Back then, the sizing made no sense to me, so I just cut the smallest size (my thought process: “Well, I’m usually the smallest size in everything else, so this should be the same for sewing patterns too” This is before I gained my post-21-oh-I-can-legally-drink-alcohol weight lol). I did the same presser foot measurement for my seam allowances too. The end result did fit, although the waist needed a little tweaking (it was too big).

    My newer version of the dress was ill-fitting (should have stuck with the smallest size, apparently) and I was horrified at how badly it was drafted. Like you, I did not pay attention to notches or markings – and I guess that’s a good thing, because nothing matched up! The finished dress ended up getting trashed haha.

  7. Anne W says:

    the first thing I made was a pair of shorts, I don’t even have that pattern anymore! I did use it loads though, I think in the end I had about 7 pairs in different fabrics!

  8. Abby says:

    I’ve been thinking about revisiting my first make too. I can’t believe how fearless I was then… It was a fully lined strapless dress with a sweetheart neckline, bodice boning, and an invisible zip. The top of the bodice gapes a tiny bit, and the back is slightly misaligned at the zipper, but overall, I’m stunned that it turned out so well, given that I knew nothing about fit, and my only experience with sewing was watching my mom make window treatments. :)

  9. jilly says:

    Love the gingham top! I’ve yet to have a first make… had my sewing machine a long while now but been too busy with Uni to dedicate enough time to anything!

  10. Vicki Kate says:

    Wow! That’s fascinating… My first make was sorbetto and ginger. I haven’t revisited either yet and I keep meaning to go back to them! Particularly as I need some summer tops!

  11. I’m not sure what I’d call my first sewing project. Most of my early projects were actually draping for Halloween. They weren’t meant to be worn much and it was mostly capes (although I did make an awesome Sith cape for my boyfriend at the time including the hood, I kept it in the breakup). First clothing was copying my RTW I liked best. First pattern… hmm, I’m going to have to think on that.

    Too bad the shirt doesn’t fit. I like it in the big plaid, I’m sure your sister will love something from her friendly neighbourhood seamstess.

  12. Molly says:

    That’s really interesting, too bad your new one didn’t work you for you cause it’s really pretty (but good thing someone else can use it!). I don’t think I could ever remember the first pattern I made, but that cause I was sewing when I was 10 and my mom usually ended up doing about half of it anyways hehe..
    You should do the WIP again, that was really fun (and this time I might have a really good one!)

  13. janine says:

    The first pattern was just a simple A line skirt so I am not so keen on that because I don`t think they suit my particular body but the second pattern I made ( 30 years ago ) was for a little button up top and I have since made it several times and want to sew it again since I no longer have any garments in my closet made from this pattern. Last year Burda magazine had a top extremely similar that was very popular too.

  14. Karen S says:

    I started sewing as a teenager in the 70’s. I don’t remember the name/number of that first pattern and I didn’t know anything about interfacing. I made things for a few years before I found out you’re supposed to interface!

  15. velosewer says:

    I haven’t gone back to anything I made when I first started sewing. That was too long ago.
    On the plus side, you’ve made your own discovery and didn’t need anyone to point it out to you.

  16. Pingback: Mt very first sewing project | ozviking

  17. ozviking says:

    Ohh so many memories. My very first project when I was 13, was a dress I made at school after my ‘beginning of the year’ measurements. At the end of the year, when we could all take our creations home, the dress didn’t fit. I had grown so much over the year that I couldn’t even get it on. However, my interest in sewing was born and, with the loving guidance of my mother, I made quite a lot of garments during my teens.

  18. Stephanie says:

    I’d love to revisit, but can’t. I was making clothes when I was a teenager and they are all long gone sadly. But I do recall them, I recall Mum’s careful supervision of the cutting process and then making me carefully unpikc the sleeves of a blouse many times until she was satisfied. I recall her checking the pattern on me and having only to do minimal alterations… sigh… those were the days!! I recall wildly coloured baggy pants and shorts from the 80’s I traced out of sewing magazines to make, and making commerical pattern dresses. it was all good fun and good experience to learn to sew.

  19. oonaballoona says:

    totally tempted, in fact, i have my first make in my hot little hands and was planning just such a post!

    surprise #3 definitely needed repeating. WOW. the sewing gods wanted you to have success.

  20. Crystal says:

    This is a great post to read and will get a lot of people reminiscing. I am pretty new to sewing for myself so its not time to revisit yet. But I am about to make the third version in a row of simplicity 2226 and I can say the second version was much better than the first.

  21. bernieandi says:

    I love the idea of revisiting the pattern used for the first item you ever made. Your 2012 version is GORGEOUS! Love the gingham, making a contrasting yoke by putting it on the bias is so delightful.

  22. Nikki says:

    I was thinking about revisiting my first pattern a couple of months ago. I also started sewing about 3 years ago, My first pattern was the kimono dress from Sense and sensibility. I hand sewed the whole dress as I was still ‘scared’ of the sewing machine!! I think the fit was ok, but I think the cotton I used was too stiff for the style of dress. I ended up reusing the fabric in other projects. I really like the dress and with 3 years more experience under my belt, I may be able to make a more wearable version.

  23. Helen Made says:

    I keep meaning to revisit my first make – it’s a 1960s shift dress which I somehow managed to re-grade down to my size successfully. I still made plenty of mistakes though, unlike you on you’re first make! I’m determined to do a better job on any second version of my dress I get round to making – like not using a thin cotton for one! ;D

  24. Roobeedoo says:

    Well how interesting! I am afraid I have never been fearless. I can talk myself out of anything if I think about it for any length of time ; )
    My first make? Well that was the baby pink smock I made a primary school – I won’t be revisiting that, thank you! The elastic cut off the circulation on my upper arms and the whole thing made me look like a very cheap sausage.

  25. I drafted the pattern for whatever you’d call the dress I first made – and loved and wore for as long as it fitted me and suited the weather (winter) – so I won’t be revisiting it in any way (it was, as I was in those days, fairly straight). First commercial make? Hm, can’t remember what it might have been. A skirt, perhaps? With elasticised waist and great pockets. I’ve made others and still have the pattern. It would now, I say delicately, need grading up significantly but it’s certainly something I would still wear. Love the look of the yoke on the bias. Very effective. And bad luck, you, but good luck for your sister.

  26. tinygoldenpins says:

    My first make was a shirt I self drafted using a favorite knit shirt as a model (the fabric on the one I was making was not, of course, a knit). However, it turned out exactly how I wanted it and I wore the heck out of it. Then I took it apart to use it for another pattern and have yet to put it back together. :( Shirt sacrifice.

  27. Elle says:

    I wouldn’t have a clue what was the first item I sewed was. Unlike you, I had so many failures that it is a miracle I still sew today. There were so many things I wore once and then tossed because they didn’t fit right or I did some thing really stupid (like cutting a wrap around skirt off grain-don’t do this 8-D). I am so impressed and a little jealous with your beginners luck on your first few makes.

  28. Sam says:

    I think the first garment I made was a blue dress from 2 rectangles of fleece/sweatshirting fabric, without a pattern. My defence is that it was the mid 1980’s when we all wore shapeless garments. It was hideous and I don’t think I ever wore it. I have certainly never had a desire to revisit the “pattern”.
    It’s a shame this gingham top doesn’t fit you, as it looks gorgeous. You have a lucky sister!

  29. the first thing for me i ever sewed was a dorothy from the wizard of oz pinafore (for fancy dress obvs!). so i probably won’t revisit it! and like you with the confidence of the novice, i just made it up as i went along – the skirt looked too poofy so i added darts, i made a sort of braces and front panel thingy and a wide tie belt to cover the fact that i couldn’t work out how to sew the elasticated waist to the top part well enough! and i did it by hand as i couldn’t work out how to use my now MILs sewing machine (i had no clue how to thread it!). i also made shoes by covering an old pair in glue and dipping in red glitter. actually came out pretty well!

  30. symondezyn says:

    I strongly support being brave, and having the audacity of a newbie ALWAYS! It’s so amazing what we can accomplish and achieve and what hidden talents we have when we do! :)

    I will definitely revisit my first pattern that I tackled after learning I needed an FBA, as even though that was only seven garments ago, I’ve learned a TON about fitting and technique…. but everything before that was a complete wadder; proportions and sizing so far off as to be unwearable to the nth degree LOL … such is the down side of being so audacious ;)

  31. Louisa says:

    My first real garment (as opposed to doll clothes) was nearly 50 years ago so sadly there’s no revisiting it! However I do remember it was a sleeveless sheath dress in a cotton print and I had a bear of a time getting the armhole and neck facings to lie flat. Who knew you had to clip the seam allowances? LOL! I still mostly ignore notches though…

  32. grenouille78 says:

    <>
    Sums it all up! When we don’t know the potential pitfalls, we just blaze ahead! Now I can almost paralyze myself before even starting on a project because I know all the ways I can screw it up! How to reclaim that innocence…?

  33. Sewing Sveta says:

    Just right now I make the remake of one of my first dress. Ohhhh, how I made the facing there, really shit!%)) Also the dress is little bit big for me%)))) But I like it and will correct after I finish the new one!

  34. Pingback: back to the beginning | moonthirty

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